These words were banned, and their author stripped of his license to teach after writing these words:
“This commandment, that we should love our enemies and forgo revenge will grow even more urgent in the holy struggle which lies before us and in which we partly have already been engaged for years. In it love and hate engage in mortal combat. It is the urgent duty of every Christian soul to prepare itself for it. The time is coming when the confession of the living God will incur not only the hatred and the fury of the world, for on the whole it has come to that already, but complete ostracism from ‘human society,’ as they call it. The Christians will be hounded from place to place, subjected to physical assault, maltreatment and death of every kind. We are approaching an age of widespread persecution. Therein lies the true significance of all the movements and conflicts of our age. Our adversaries seek to root out the Christian Church and the Christian faith because they cannot live side by side with us, because they see in every word we utter and every deed we do, even when they are not specifically directed against them, a condemnation of their own words and deeds. They are not far wrong. They suspect too that we are indifferent to their condemnation. Indeed they must admit that it is utterly futile to condemn us. We do not reciprocate their hatred and contention, although they would like it better if we did, and so sink to their level. And how is the battle to be fought? Soon the time will come when we shall pray, not as isolated individuals, but as a corporate body, a congregation, a Church: we shall pray in multitudes (albeit in relatively small multitudes) and among the thousands and thousands of apostates we shall loudly praise and confess the Lord who was crucified and is risen and shall come again.”
As you read my intro and proceeded through these powerful words, I’m sure you wondered where in America did this happen? Who is this guy?
This guy was a part of “The Confessing Church.” Those who chose this organization did so because this church “confessed allegiance to Christ.” This guy, having his license to teach removed by the state, then taught at a school run by this church. Never heard of “The Confessing Church?” This church came about in response to an act taken by the Reformed Church of Luther. Yes, this guy, was a Lutheran. This guy believed two things about his church; 1) Luther’s reforms were essential to the Christian church. And 2) As quickly as Luther made his reforms, the church began to move away from them.
Naturally then, taking Christ at His word, “you cannot serve two masters,” this guy, and others like him, could not remain a part of a church which had sworn their allegiance to Hitler. That’s right, the state that took his license, and closed the schools who swore allegiance to Christ above the state, was the Gestapo. This guy was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A minister in the Lutheran Church in Germany when the Nazi’s came to power, he fled to a place where the things he wrote about in this quote were not true, where it was safe to live your allegiance to Christ. This place? New York city in the United (free) States of America. But as soon as this guy’s feet hit our shores, he regretted cowering under the threats of the state and booked the quickest boat back to Germany. There he stood in loving defiance of a state that would assume God’s Authority. There he would be sent to prison for that defiance. There he would be hung for his sworn allegiance to Christ.
But I agree with you. If I had been given this quote independently, I too would have thought it was written about our modern America. Wrong? You tell me, who had the authority and the allegiance of “the churches” in 2020. Who has the authority and the allegiance of those who attend those churches in 2021? You tell me what part of Bonhoeffer’s words don’t apply to the United (free?) States of America. Finally, let’s see if the modern day Gestapo bans/cancels these words?
© Scott A Caughel 7/9/2021
Quote from “The Cost of Discipleship” written in 1937 as Bonhoeffer saw what was coming, and even though the church had submitted to the authority of the state, he still believed the Christian people of the country he loved would not go along with The National Socialist Party… he was wrong.